I have previously discussed what estate planning is and what could happen if you don’t estate plan. When you begin the estate planning process, you should start with goal-setting. Goals should always meet the needs of the individual person. Estate planning attorneys are essential to help you determine your goals. In many cases, individuals do not realize that they should be setting estate planning goals because they have never spoken with an estate planning attorney.
A good first step is to determine who should inherit from your estate. After you have chosen your heirs, decide what percentage of your estate each heir should inherit. Then determine if there are any specific pieces of personal property, like a stamp collection or a wedding ring that you wish to give to a specific heir.
One of the most important decisions you will make during this process is to determine who shall serve as executor of your will or trustee of your trust. An executor and trustee serve to administer and distribute your estate. They also deal with any conflicts or problems which may arise after your death. In most cases, it is a good idea to choose a relative or an adult child to serve as your executor or trustee. Remember, the executor or trustee has a lot of responsibility so choose a capable person. It is always a good idea to name at least one alternate executor or trustee in case the first person you appointed is unable to serve.
Finally, decide if there is anything special you would like to do with your estate plan, such as a trust for the education of your grandchildren.
A list of typical estate planning goals include:
In my next post, I will discuss which documents you should use for your estate planning needs.
This article is part of the eFuneral Resource Center and was written by Timothy J. Forrestal, an accomplished Cleveland, Ohio-based attorney with an impressive track record in the fields of elder law and estate planning. He is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section of the Ohio State Bar Association, the AARP Legal Services Network and the Better Business Bureau. For more information, please visit www.forrestallaw.com. The Forrestal Law Office Medicaid Planning Team offers help in the following areas: Division of Assets, Medicaid Planning, Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Estate Planning, Living Wills, Nursing Home Planning, Guardianships. Those thinking about end-of-life should visit eFuneral.com for help researching, planning, and arranging a wide variety of funeral-related services.
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